Celebrating Black History Month focuses on “Health and Wellness” through outdoor activities for February and beyond

Connecting racial equity and inclusion to the outdoors is a powerful narrative

Since 1976, every U.S. president has designated February as Black History Month to celebrate and learn about the history, contributions, and accomplishments of Black Americans.

Of equal importance are ongoing efforts throughout the year to raise awareness on issues affecting Black American communities by engaging in positive and effective dialogue, and inspiring action to make positive changes.

This year’s Black History Month theme of “Black Health and Wellness” provides an opportunity to share information on the wide range of fun and exciting outdoor opportunities Washington has to offer, and the health benefits of nature-based recreation.

“Spending time in nature can be healing and greatly support our physical and mental health,” said Kelly Susewind, Director for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “The Department manages more than a million acres of public land around the state, as well as hundreds of water access areas that offer unique opportunities for exploration and recreation. We are committed to playing our part to make public lands and outdoor recreation more welcoming and accessible for everyone.”

Research has shown people of color are much less likely to participate in nature-based outdoor recreation, with historic discrimination being a large underlying factor. That narrative can be changed with a continued emphasis on recognizing achievements by Black Americans and people of color in outdoor recreation and building a more diverse leadership in outdoor related agencies, organizations, advisory boards, panels, and commissions.

Numerous organizations along with prominent and passionate Black Americans or people of color are at the forefront in outdoor recreation, conservation, and nature, promoting diversity and inclusion in Washington and around the country. Often, their grassroot efforts and contributions go unrecognized.

Raising awareness by WDFW won’t be focused solely during February. We will highlight stories throughout the year on Black Americans and people of color contributing to making the outdoors safe, accessible, and welcoming for all identities and abilities.

At WDFW, we believe science and conservation are best advanced by the leadership and contributions of people with widely diverse backgrounds, experiences, and identities, who reflect the communities they serve.

For more information and resources about people of color in the outdoors and natural resource fields, visit:

· Braided Seeds

· Outdoor Afro

· Guide to Outdoor Allyship blog (Melanin Basecamp)

· The Black Outdoors; Diversify Outdoors

· Black People Who Hike

· BIPoC Outside

· Black Women in Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Science

· Black in Marine Science

· Black in Environment

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The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources.